Kim’s aunt reemerges after years of speculation about fate

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP) – The aunt of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made her first public appearance in about six years, state media reported yesterday, quelling rumours that she was purged or executed by her nephew.

According to a Korean Central News Agency dispatch, the name of Kim Kyong Hui was included in a list of top North Korean officials who watched a performance marking Lunar New Year’s Day with Kim Jong-un at a Pyongyang theatre on Saturday.

North Korea’s main newspaper also released a photo showing Kim Kyong Hui sitting near Kim Jong-unand his wife, Ri Sol Ju, at the Samjiyon Theater. Kim Kyong Hui, 73, was once an influential figure in North Korea as the only sister of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the father of Kim Jong-un. She held a slew of top posts such as a four-star army general and a ruling Workers’ Party departmental director.

She was also believed to have played a key role in grooming Kim Jong-un as the next leader after Kim Jong Il suffered a stroke in 2008.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) claps with his wife Ri Sol Ju (third right) and his aunt Kim Kyong Hui (second right) as they attend a concert celebrating Lunar New Year’s Day in Pyongyang, North Korea. PHOTO: AP